NEW YORK, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Leadership and senior staff of twenty- seven breast cancer funding organizations and advocacy groups met on November 1-2 along with experts from government agencies, scientists from academic institutions and researchers from the pharmaceutical industry at the unprecedented Collaborative Summit on Breast Cancer Research. This first meeting of its kind in the US took place in Leesburg, VA, outside Washington, DC, and included some 100 invited participants. Special host for the event was Paula Zahn.
The Collaborative Summit was facilitated by the Avon Foundation and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, and co-funded by the Avon Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, who worked with co-organizers to create an event to bring together those who raise and award funds with those who are on the edge of new discoveries, with the goal of discussing possible new collaborations and cooperation to end the burden of breast cancer. Key topics addressed by the funders, advocates, researchers, regulators, industry representatives, and social scientists included the current federal government budget crisis in research funding and a definition of new research funding paradigms to optimize opportunities and reduce barriers and waste, all towards the goal of eradicating breast cancer.
Attendance at the Collaborative Summit was by invitation only, and the event was closed to the public and media to ensure open dialogue. In addition to the Avon Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, attendees included representatives from the co-organizers: The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, American Association for Cancer Research, American Cancer Society, the ASCO Foundation, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, the National Cancer Institute, Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation Pink Pony, and more. Other organizations represented included the Food and Drug Administration, Eli Lilly, Inc., AstraZeneca, and academic leaders from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins University, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the Salk Institute, and the University of California Los Angeles and others.
"Collaboration is at the heart of the mission of the Avon Foundation and will be key to eradicating breast cancer. We have been committed since 1992 to advancing access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer worldwide, and have facilitated collaboration among the hundreds of cancer centers and breast health organizations we fund to maximize the efforts of all. Now, with this unprecedented meeting, collaboration is brought into the arena of funders and advocates," stated Carol Kurzig, Executive Director, Avon Foundation. "There is a new diagnosis of breast cancer about every three minutes, and there is still work to be done together."
Within the next 25 years, an estimated 10 million women around the world will die because of breast cancer. "It is going to take all of us, working together united in this fight to discover and deliver the cures for this dreaded disease. We have to commit to mobilizing people, ensuring open dialogue and maximizing funding if we are to end breast cancer. Cancer as a whole kills some 7 million people around the globe each year," said Hala Moddelmog, President and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "Since our inception 25 years ago, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has invested in breast cancer research and community outreach programs, and over the next decade, we plan to increase our investment to demonstrate the seriousness of our commitment."
The Collaborative Summit opened with an address by the Honorable John Edwards Porter, Vice Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, followed by Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest grassroots network of survivors and activist committed to ending breast cancer forever. Ambassador Brinker, spoke on the nation's "funding landscape" as a leader in the non- governmental and non-profit sector, saying, "I believe in this partnership between science and society. It is the collaboration between so many of us, (that) lies at the heart of our progress in this fight ... let's use this summit to start building a new culture, a culture of collaboration."
The participants made an appraisal of the current breast cancer landscape; held frank, open discussions on current barriers to prevention and cure; and developed compelling action steps for making significant, expedited progress forward. In addition to the specific goals, the open dialogue among disparate members of the breast cancer community itself broke barriers, creating a new paradigm for constructive movement forward towards innovative initiatives, new models, partnership opportunities and potential collaborations.
"Working together with our partners who raise funds for breast cancer research is key to our collective success," said Myra Biblowit, President of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). "We have different approaches, and somewhat different philosophies and programs, but we are united in our shared responsibility to fund research, our shared demand that it adheres to the highest standards, and our shared responsibility to ensure that its benefits are translated to the clinic, for the patients who need it."
Larry Norton, MD, Director of Breast Cancer Programs at Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center and Scientific Director of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, summarized the work of the Summit as follows: "This Summit is a critical step toward identifying, analyzing, and eventually overcoming all the barriers that stand between where we are now and the eradication of breast cancer. The researchers of our nation and the world are counting on the united dedication of organizations, governments, corporations, and individuals to this mission."
SOURCE Avon Foundation; Susan G. Komen for the Cure